Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fixing Literary Flat Tires

I was working on the final scenes of one of my upcoming books, and hit a snag this weekend.  I was writing and writing but something didn't feel right about the direction the story took and I got stuck.  Today, I took a step back and studied it more critically.  I found out what my problem was and now I can move forward again... after moving backward and rewriting about two thousand words.

I had placed my antagonist in a position where he needed to let go of his anger and hatred so that he could return to the love of his life without our protagonist's blood on his hands (the "super happy ending" I had mentioned in a prior post).  The problem was that he was at the place physically to have his change of heart but the catalyst for the change was not present.  She got left behind before she could give her "I can make you happy, but if you get in that boat and go after him, we're through" speech needed to make him weigh the cost of his revenge.

I could just force my way through as is but then at the very last minute of the story, the dear readers will feel that the antagonist's actions feel emotionally false and become disconnected from the story.  Readers will let you get away with fire breathing dragons and alien spaceships as long as the characters act like genuine people but they will bail on you if they act out of character because the plot says they have to. 

The ending is a critical moment in a book.  A mediocre book with a good ending will actually get better praise than a good book with a mediocre ending thanks to the way the human mind only remembers clearly the final impression or most recent experience with something.  Also, throughout the story the author is making promises.  At the end, if those promises weren't met to the reader's satisfaction, they feel robbed.  And robbed people are unhappy people.

So just give me a few days to fix my most recent literary flat tire so you don't have to feel the bumpy ride.  Thank you.

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